My entry for the May to December contest. Winner of Best Lemon - thank you!

Pre-read by the always wonderful Sri, checked over by fellow puck girl May Tucker. Jill, aka O_oza, aka ebil kitteh stepped up and beta'd this for me. Thanks to Iris for the hook-up.

My apologies to the Chicago Blackhawks organization. While you do employee Patrick Kane (boo ;) ), you also are home to Patrick Sharpe (swoon) and are therefor not all bad. Also, your real coach seems like a fine dude. Sorry.

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable characters herein. No copyright infringement is intended.

Bella planned to come to Rockford on her own terms. A few years into her marriage she suspected that James had a wandering eye. But she stayed, because leaving then would have been admitting failure, and Bella Swan did not fail. A decade in, the effects of living with a man who'd spent the best years of his life ignoring concussion after concussion were painfully apparent. Bella didn't worry about failure anymore.

In the last few years James stopped being just an asshole and became downright cruel, and she was done with it.

But James wasn't going to let Bella be the one who decided when things were done.

One morning when James left for practice, she'd hurriedly packed a small carry-on and set off. There was nothing more from that life she wanted to bring with her. She used her last twenty dollars on a cab to the train station. All she had left to do was purchase a ticket to Milwaukee. Once she arrived, Emmett would pick her up before his game.

She suspected James had read her emails when her credit card was declined. Her suspicions were confirmed when she tried to withdraw money from the bank. She'd never had her own account, and James froze her out of the one they shared. An attempt to make a phone call revealed he'd disconnected her cell too. If James had cut off everything, he must have known it was the morning she planned on moving out. She needed to go home and get a hold of Emmett. He'd have a backup plan.

It was a cold December morning when Bella walked from Chicago's Union Station to the Lincoln Park row home she shared with James.

He waited for her in their bedroom.

The argument was brutal.

The fight was worse.

He ripped the suitcase from her hands, and she dodged out of the way as he hurled it back at her. The clothes came off her back next.

Her wrist snapped as she tumbled down the stairs. She should have known better than to brace herself against the impact. It wasn't the first time he'd backed her to the edge of the staircase while he screamed at her. She "fell" down the stairs a little too often.

"You were nothing when I met you. You'll leave me as nothing." He laughed when she flinched at his kick. He stopped his foot before it made contact and let it hover over her stomach before he slowly lowered it. The sole of his shoe pressed into her, just enough to be uncomfortable, not enough to leave a mark. He dropped a pair of her sweat pants onto her chest, followed by a t-shirt. Both of them paint covered from the days he let her have a studio in the house.

He stepped back and watched her struggle to get up. He laughed when she winced as she tried to dress. The pants cut into her uncomfortably. They were designed to be a baggy extra small. She wore a medium now.

"Look at you. Such a fucking pig."

She put her coat on one arm and pulled it over her other shoulder. The adrenaline was wearing off and a dull throb took its place. She made her way to the door. As her hand turned on the knob, James called her name. For a moment, she debated turning around. She was inches from freedom. Her name rang out once more, and she turned.

James tossed a couple of bills on the floor. She was too far away to see what they were.

"You were a lousy lay, but I guess I owe you something. You're still a whore after all."

Bella could still hear his laughter as she closed the door behind her. She walked away from it all: the insults, the cheating, and lately, the pushing, the shoving, the slapping.

She was free.

It took fifteen years.

Edward noticed Bella immediately. At first it seemed impossible that the mousy girl in Emmett's shadow could have been related to him. He was as brash as she was mute, confident as she was anxious. As the cast on her arm came off, she slowly came to life. She was still quiet, but she didn't take shit from anyone. She was at every practice, every game. She sat with Emmett on the bus. No one dared question their coach on that. The young guys dubbed her their team mom, and it was clear she was filling that role for many of them. Most of the team had lived with billets since they were teenagers. They were used to finding pseudo-moms wherever they played. Edward never could get behind that assessment of her. He'd been lucky enough to always have his mother close by. He didn't need another one.

He credited his close relationship with his parents as one of the tenets of his success. Family. School. Hockey. In that order. Carlisle had always taught him to never let hockey get the best of him. To take what he could from the sport, but to never let it take from him. He applied the same hyper-focus that allowed him to be a star goalie to everything he did. He fast-tracked high school and finished a university degree before most of his hockey peers earned their grade 12 diploma.

Once he set his mind to something, nothing could sway him from his goal.

Until that distraction became the one thing he couldn't attain.

At first, he noticed Bella because she was there.

Wherever Emmett went, Bella was behind him.

But the one day she wasn't, Edward went looking for her. He'd casually asked Emmett where his sister was. She'd never missed a practice. Emmett told him that she just started working at the little cafe Emmett's wife, Rose, owned.

Edward hit the gym while the guys showered after practice. This wasn't unusual. The change to Edward's routine happened when he pulled into the restaurant. Most of the kids on the team went to Rose's for lunch. Edward ate most of his meals at home. His diet, like most of his life, was strictly regimented. If he was going to break into the NHL, he needed to be better than anyone else out there.

As he walked in, most of the team were heading out. An exhausted looking Bella smiled at him from behind the counter.

"What can I get for you, sunshine?"


"I'm testing out my sassy-waitress personality. I'm thinking everyone should have a nickname."

"You call us all sunshine?" He looked to the parking lot. He noticed Emmett paused half in the car, watching him. Edward nodded and turned back to Bella.

"Nah, just you." Bella noticed his slight frown. "What's wrong? Don't you like it?"

"I like it fine."

"Well, look at that!" Bella pointed at Edward. Her tone conveyed a slight disbelief.

"What?" Edward looked behind him, unsure of what could have surprised her.

"You do smile!"

Once Edward discovered Bella worked every afternoon in Rose's cafe, he made a point to arrive for a late lunch. Bella began to anticipate his order and have it ready for him.

Edward found himself taking his time with his meal. Each day they talked a little longer, light conversations, but they became the highlight of Edward's day. One day he spent long enough there that the entire lunch crowd cleared out and it was just the two of them. He helped Bella clear the tables and noted she evaded his questions about life before her move to Rockford. He heard gossip when Emmett wasn't around. Bella was divorcing the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, and he heard enough to know it was nasty. Guys who played up a game or two and then came back down warned the others about James: He hated Emmett, and every guy that came up from Rockford was made to pay for whatever it was James thought Emmett had done to him. They suspected it really had something to do with the Barbie-blond that had replaced Bella the same week she'd moved in with her brother.

Once they were finished he put on his coat. He decided to ask Bella out, but the words weren't coming. He was nervous. He liked her and respected her brother a great deal. He wasn't sure if he'd like the consequences of it not working out. He watched as Bella pulled out a laptop and settled in behind the counter.

"So you just sit there and play games?"

"I wish." Bella rolled her eyes. "I decided to finish my degree. I dropped out with one semester to go. I want to finish it online, but..." Bella trailed off as her frustrations overwhelmed her.

"What's the problem?"

"Education's changed a lot in the past fifteen or so years."

"You should've graduated from high school fifteen years ago?" Edward looked at Bella wide-eyed.

"I should've graduated from college fifteen years ago. Instead I met my biggest mistake and followed him around the continent."

He wanted to ask if James was her big mistake, but he was stuck on something else. "You were supposed to graduate from college fifteen years ago? How old are you?"

"I'm thirty-three." Bella eyed Edward with suspicion. "Why?"

"I wouldn't have guessed that." Edward realized that there probably wasn't any point to hanging around the cafe anymore. His initial plans of asking Bella out were dashed with this news. But instead of saying goodbye, he found himself settling in beside her.

"It's been five years for me, but maybe I can help."

Bella turned to face him. "Five years since you graduated college or high school? How old are you?" Suddenly Bella realized she probably should've looked up Edward Cullen's stats before she started entertaining some of the thoughts she'd been having of him late at night. She knew he was younger, but she'd assumed he was closer to thirty than twenty.


Bella breathed a sigh of relief. She was off the hook.

"I'm twenty-two. I fast-tracked."


And so their friendship progressed.

Edward came by the cafe if he was in town. If he wasn't, they'd message each other. Now that Bella was working and taking classes, she didn't go with Emmett to the away games.

What she kept from Edward was that she didn't feel frightened anymore. She was once terrified that James would show up and try to drag her home. Instead he moved a younger, Barbie-girl into the home Bella had left. He offered her fifty thousand to keep her mouth shut and sign the divorce papers. She wanted to send the money back, along with the signed papers, but Emmett convinced her to keep it. He told her she had a chance to go back in time and be twenty again. Only this time she'd finish her degree and not let a thirty-something, past his prime NHL defenseman charm her away from it.

Within weeks of meeting James she'd dropped out and moved to Boston, then Philadelphia, followed quickly by Toronto, Tampa Bay, and finally Minnesota before he conceded defeat and retired. Five teams in two years had taken a chance on the once star player who could no longer keep up with the changing game. James wanted a fight, and teams were no longer willing to carry an enforcer when he couldn't produce anything other than a knock out.

It would take another decade for the effects of so many shots to the head to make themselves painfully known. No one knew that quite like Bella.

As the hockey season ended, most of the players drifted home, but Edward stayed. His parents lived a few hours away in Chicago, and his original plan had been to give up his lease and stay with them over the summer. But something had changed his mind. Out loud, he attributed this change to the recent acquirement of a rescued Doberman puppy. He wanted to stay in his house and train the dog. He wasn't sure his mother would welcome an untrained house guest.

But every afternoon, he found himself in the cafe helping Bella finish her summer courses. By the end of August, she only needed two more credits to graduate.

Their friendship was warm, but they were careful to not meet outside of the cafe. The messages they sent each other were supportive but never ventured into personal topics such as dating.

And then one day, in early October, Bella casually mentioned she'd never heard any talk of a woman in his life.

She didn't know why she did it. Her casual tone gave Edward no indication that anything was amiss with her observation. He debated mentioning the woman in his life appeared to be completely clueless when Bella pushed on through his silence.

"Seriously? What are you doing hanging around here with me every afternoon?"

"I could ask the same of you. You've been here for nearly a year now and not a single date."

"Yeah." Bella laughed. "Hardly the same thing. You can score grade A pussy with a snap of your fingers. Who's going to want to date a middle-aged divorcee?"

"Listen to you." Edward shook his head and mumbled, "Grade A pussy," before speaking up. "You don't hold back, do you? And I can think of someone." He raised his eyebrows suggestively at Bella.

She studied him for a moment, unsure of what he was implying.

There was no way this gorgeous boy before her meant him. Was there?

No, she told herself as she remembered Edward teasing her last week when the very senior Mike Newton insisted Bella was the most beautiful waitress he'd ever had the pleasure of receiving coffee from.

Bella threw sugar packs at Edward. "I don't mean Mike! I just left an almost senior citizen. Trust me, I'm not looking for someone older."

"That's good to know." Edward laughed as he tossed a sugar pack back at Bella.

He hadn't meant Mike.

He was definitely thinking of someone younger.

Bella celebrated the anniversary of her leaving Chicago at the Rockford Ice Hogs Holiday Family Skate.

It was a fun event that most of the younger guys brought their girlfriends to, and the older guys brought their wives and children. Edward came alone.

Bella came with Emmett and Rose.

Jasper, the goalie coach, brought his wife, Alice, and their four-week-old daughter, Natasha. Alice took pictures while Jasper skated, pushing his daughter's stroller around the ice. Eventually he made his way to Edward and Bella and pulled Edward aside while Bella cooed over the newborn.

"I know this goes against everything I've taught you in your position, but sometimes you've just got to shoot the puck."

"Why do I think you aren't coaching me right now?" Edward glanced over at Bella, but she was still paying attention to the bundle swaddled in the stroller a few feet from them.

"I'm life coaching you now."

"Mmmm." Edward tried to act disinterested.

"She's going on a date this afternoon. Shoot the fucking puck."

Bella skated toward them pushing a now wailing baby. "I think she needs her momma."

Jasper relived Bella of the stroller and skated off toward Alice. But he couldn't resist leaving without one more "Shoot the puck!" yelled in Edward's direction.

"Shoot the puck?" Bella questioned.

"I don't know either. So do you think we've been here long enough to call it a day? Maybe we can grab a hot drink together?"

"Actually, I was just going to leave. Alice set me up with a teacher at her school. I'm meeting him for lunch. Wish me luck?"

Edward watched Bella skate away without waiting for him to wish her well on her date. Which was just as well, because he couldn't quite bring himself to say anything. He'd just tried to ask her out and was very much shot down.

Edward took a few more laps and posed for pictures with some of the kids who'd been invited by various charities around the city. He was just about to leave the ice when Emmett caught up to him.

"So my sister, eh?"

Once again Edward tried to appear disinterested. "Yeah, she left already. Apparently Alice set her up with someone from work."

"Yeah, I'm not talking about that guy." Emmett stood between Edward and the exit. "My sister isn't for one-night stands. I'm not going to let her be some sort of trophy fuck when you're on a hot streak."

"Of course she isn't. What are you talking about?" Edward was starting to wonder if this day could get any worse.

"I've been watching you, Edward. You're pretty transparent."

"If I'm so transparent, you should be able to see I'm not interested in a one-night stand."

"You're a good kid, Edward. Go find your fun somewhere else."

Emmett skated away. Edward wanted to follow him and finish the conversation, but there was no point in doing that here. If he was serious about pursuing Bella, he'd need her brother's approval. He hoped he'd be able to get Emmett alone tonight at the team party.

Rose closed the cafe to host the celebration. They had a few days off, and it was time to make the most of it. Bella showed up alone, still dressed up from her date. Edward waved at her from across the room, but as she made her way over to him, he turned away to talk to someone else. She ended up standing with her brother, watching the game on the screen he'd hooked up for this very reason. Rose didn't want her cafe to turn into a sports lounge any more than it already had.

"You really can't take a break from hockey can you?"

"Your robot boyfriend's having a good time tonight. I've never seen him drunk before. It's amusing. I'm really hoping we'll get him to do something amazing that we'll be able to hold over him. Karaoke's coming out later, but I bet that slick son of a bitch can carry a tune even when he's hammered."

"Whoa." Bella turned to look at her brother, but he was still absorbed in the game. "What's with the Edward hate? And since when did you start calling him my robot—"

"Oh. Fuck." Emmett wasn't paying attention, he was grimacing at the screen in front of him.

Bella looked to see what had distracted Emmett, and the room rest of the room quickly turned silent as the Chicago game captured their attention.

Or rather the stopped Chicago game. Cory Crawford, the Blackhawks' starting goalie, lay prone on the ice, his left leg bent behind him at an unnatural angle. They watched in silence as the trainer signaled to the bench for assistance.

As Crawford was transferred to the stretcher, Bella and Emmett turned to each other in shock. They knew what this meant.

Edward was about to be called up.

Bella searched the room for him. She wasn't surprised to find he'd disappeared from the crowd. She knew where to find him.

"Are you making a mess of Rose's kitchen?" She found him rooting through the cupboards.

"Coffee!" Edward bellowed in Bella's direction.

"Here, you passed right by it." Bella handed him the fresh cup of black she'd poured him on the way to the kitchen. "You'll want this too." She passed him the few slices of pizza she'd loaded up on the paper plate. Greasy food and black coffee were mandatory when these guys got together.

"Uh." Edward grunted looking at the offering before him. "Thanks."

She watched him wolf down the pizza in a few bites.

"Dude!" She laughed as she took the empty plate from him. "Let's go. I'm taking you home. I have a feeling you're going to be taking an important phone call."

They drove in silence. Bella pulled up to the house he lived in on his own. Most of the guys rented apartments together downtown, but not Edward.

Edward made no move to get out of the car.

Bella noticed his hands were shaking. The call had come during the five minute drive across town. She knew he was leaving, but he still hadn't said anything to her. Bella got out of the car and walked around to Edward's door.

"Come on, big guy. Time for bed. You've got a big day ahead of you."

Edward looked at Bella and drunkenly volleyed himself out of the car to a standing position. The sobriety he managed on the phone seemed to be only momentary.

A hand reached out to Bella's waist. Instead of letting it rest there she grabbed his wrist and pulled him to the front door.

"Where are your keys?"

"In my pocket." He smirked again.

"Get them out, Edward."

He put his hands behind his head and leaned against the door.

"Edward," Bella warned.

"Bella." He mimicked her tone and then brought his head down to hers, leaning in to kiss her.

"Whoa! What are you doing?" Bella put her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back against the door.

"You should be my girl."

"You should sober up. What's up with you tonight?"

"Oh shit." Edward ran his hands through his hair before the back of his head landed with a heavy thud against his front door. "I've fucked this up."

"You're fine, Edward. I heard you. You sounded totally sober on the phone. They've already emailed you your plane ticket. You're meeting them in LA tomorrow afternoon. You've got this! Edward, this is what you've orchestrated your whole life for."

"I'm going to fuck up the best thing in my life."

"Edward, listen to me." Bella grabbed his head and pulled it from the door so he could see her. "You aren't going to fuck this up!"

"Come with me. Meet me in LA."

"I can't."

"Okay, I know it's late notice. What about in Chicago on Monday? You can stay at my parents' place."

"Edward. I can't."

"You can't or you won't?"


"See, it's already fucked up."

Edward fished his keys from his pocket and unlocked the door himself, slamming it behind him.

Edward went to LA where he joined the team for a pre-game practice, and then watched the game from the security of the back-up position.

Off the ice, he kept to himself. Players were used to goalies being quirky, and Edward was no exception. He was formal, overly rigid. Tight Ass, James had instantly dubbed him, and Edward accepted it.

He put everything he was on the ice in a vain attempt to move forward and away from who he'd left behind.

It was Edward's fifth win. It was his first time starting back to back. He'd let one in early in the first, and then fought like hell to keep it a one goal game. A fight, initiated by a Blackhawk, gave the team some energy, resulting in a change of momentum. Finally, two goals late in the third led to an exciting victory for the home crowd.

Edward, although always professional, struggled to respect his coach. James liked the dirty play a little too much, and this game had been full of it. While Edward was happy to have another win, he wasn't particularly proud of how they got it.

James, however, loved it.

"Sometimes you need to rough a bitch up on the ice, just like in real life. Let them know who's boss," James declared as the door closed behind him.

The excited din in the dressing room continued. Nobody acknowledged their coach had said anything. They were used to this kind of talk. Occasionally one of the older guys would speak up, but that seemed to egg on James. Now they just ignored it, and he usually moved on to another topic. Nobody had told Edward this.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" Things were starting to click for Edward. And as each piece of the puzzle that was Bella fit together, a little something more of Edward broke.

He could feel the room look at him as he repeated, "What did you just say?"

James sauntered over to Edward. "Oh, that's right. Her pussy brother was your coach. Don't tell me he pussified you too."

"You're the one who broke her arm?"

The dressing room went silent.

James' laugh rang out loudly while Edward pulled his chest armour over his head and let it drop to the floor beside him.

"Yeah, I got a little carried away there. Bitch had it coming. She was lucky I was done with her anyway. Once they get out of their twenties, what's the point?"

Edward sat straighter. He was the only one to move in the room.

"You broke her arm because she was breaking up with you?" Edward grabbed the edge of the bench. He was hanging on by a thread.

A fact that James could sense. He loved the power it gave him. He leaned down. A wicked smirk slowly spread across his face. "She forgot who the man was. Sometimes I'd give her a little slap when she sucked my dick, just to remind her. Should've done it more often."

James didn't expect Edward to react so quickly. He thought he'd merely started a game.

Edward didn't think anything other than not my Bella and sprang. There was a satisfying crack as his fist met James' nose, and a quick second jab connected just to the right of the first before Edward felt his body connect with James and they both fell to the ground. Immediately, hands pulled at him, and in the melee an elbow connected with his eye. He struggled to free himself as he was dragged from the room, still in his pads and skates.

"The Blackhawks' loss is our gain. Rookie goalie, Edward Cullen, has been sent back to Rockford for undisclosed reasons. There's no question he proved himself worthy of his high draft pick. He's only lost one of five starts in net, and only allowed four goals in those five games. The question many Blackhawks fans are asking tonight is why is he being sent down when he should be challenging for the role of starting goalie? Though neither side are commenting on the specifics, it may be worth noting that after last night's game both Edward and Head Coach James Witherdale left the United Center sporting black eyes that neither acquired during the game."

Bella turned off the radio as she pulled into the BMO arena. She knew Emmett was running practice today, and the chances of Edward already being between the pipes once again as an Ice Hog were pretty high.

Her suspicions were confirmed once she entered the stands. She'd recognize that butterfly stance anywhere. She'd spent more time than she should've fantasizing about the muscles he'd created while spending hours in that squat position.

He's a good kid, she told herself.

That was what she always told herself.

It was getting harder for her to listen.

She sat in her usual place in the stands. When she first came to Rockford last year, she'd been too afraid to be out of Emmett's sight. It worked out, because once he knew what had happened in Chicago, he didn't let her out of view.

The seat also put Edward in her sightline.

The first time it was unintentional. As time went on, and her friendship with Edward developed, he became as much of a comfort as her brother. She knew she should think of him as another kid brother looking out for her.

But what she should think and what she really thought? Well, there was a pretty big gap between the two.

Eventually, she didn't need the reassurance of Emmett's presence anymore.

But she still went to practice.

She still liked the view.

He's a good kid, she feebly reminded herself.

Bella let the players and coaching staff leave the ice before she wandered to the dressing room. She waited outside for all but one of them to depart.

Emmett was out nearly immediately. He'd taken off his helmet but not his skates. He opened the door just enough to slip out, blocking any view of Bella from the dressing room, and there was no chance she could see past her massive brother.

"Go home, Bella. We'll talk about it there."

"Come on, Emmett. Let me talk to him."

"Bella, just leave it for a bit." Emmett's gentle baritone with his sister never matched the one he used when he was behind the bench.

"I think you know something and you're keeping it from me." Bella crossed her arms in front of her. She willed herself to calm down; there's no reason to be this upset, she reminded herself.

But there was: James.

Just when she felt like she was free, he could hurt her again, even when he didn't realize it.

"Come on, Bella. Why would I do that?" Emmett spread his hands apart, palms up, the picture of innocence.

"You know exactly why. You all protect each other."

"Trust me, Bella. That's not what this is."

"What did James do?"

Emmett grabbed Bella's elbow and guided her away from the dressing room. He towered over her naturally; in his skates their height difference was nearly comical. He bent over to whisper to Bella, although they appeared to be alone. Given the circus that Edward had created, he wanted to be sure they weren't overheard.

"Anything ever happen between you and Edward?"

"What?" Bella barked in confusion. "I mean, thanks for thinking I could tap that, but I'll clarify—what the fuck is going on?"

"Edward attacked James after the game. He's not talking about it; management told him not to and I ain't pressing it. And Lord knows James had it coming to him, but I never thought Edward would be the one to give it to him—"

"Edward hit James?"

"Did you see that fucker? I think Edward may have broken his nose." Emmett smiled. "Good on him. But back to you." Emmett once again turned serious. "You ever give Edward any reason for that? And I'll clarify for you—before you take my head off—he deserved it. James deserved that and more. I wish I was the one to do it, but I didn't. I know why I would knock out that son of a bitch, but do you know why Edward would risk losing everything he's worked for? You're the connection between those two."

"I know it's not me. Edward doesn't know. Unless you've said something." Bella waited until Emmett shook his head to confirm he hadn't. "Then it's nothing to do with me. You know James is an asshole. He must've said something to goad Edward."

"Of course he did, but what did he say that could break Edward? Have you ever seen that kid lose control? He's a goddamn fucking robot. Nothing fazes him."

Bella paused. She had seen that famed control slip. Once. The night before Edward moved to Chicago. "Em, you know James. He's a sick fucker. You know how much he would have loved taking that control from Edward."

Emmett did know. He knew what James had done to his sister. He wondered if Edward knew too.

Bella told Emmett she was going home but hid in the washroom instead. By now she knew everyone's routine. Emmett would leave with the majority who hit the showers right after practice. Sure enough, twenty minutes later, she heard her brother laughing with Jasper and a few other players. She waited, hidden this time, until she was sure all but one player remained.

Edward always stayed later. He'd put in an hour in the small gym alone, and then shower. He'd walk out of the dressing room an hour and a half after everybody else, looking impeccable. Not a hair would be out of place. He regulated everything in his life, from his hair, to his perfectly behaved dog, to his strict diet and workout regimen. Edward Cullen was the definition of control.

She slipped out of the bathroom and waited, leaning on the wall across from the dressing room.

Bella realized there was a craziness to what she was doing. Saying goodbye to Edward the night before he moved to Chicago had been fraught with tension. He might not want to see her today. She'd seen a side of him that he hadn't shown anyone else on the team, she was sure of that. For one night he'd let go of let his self-restraint, and he might be embarrassed to see Bella and be reminded of that.

She'd seen him drunk, and scared. He was terrified he was going to, in his own words, "Fuck up the most important thing he had in his life."

And he said some other things that Bella was sure he probably regretted once morning came, along with sobriety.

She'd waited for a text. Some sort of apology for a moment of silliness, but nothing came.

As the day wore on and no message came, Bella began to see what she once thought was something they'd laugh off was something much more serious.

He'd embarrassed himself.

He'd made a clumsy pass at Bella and was mortified.

Every time she checked her phone, she typed her own messages:

Good luck.

Break a leg. Or should I say stick?

Thinking of you.

We need to talk.

I'm sorry.

I think I feel it too.

She deleted each one.

Instead, she watched the game, and the next one. She watched Edward sit and wait for his chance. She continued to type out messages and delete them. She continued to wait for something from him. And so, a week later, she watched her once-closest friend make his first appearance in the NHL, a win no less, without any encouragement from her.

And then she was too embarrassed by her own petty discomfort to send him a congratulatory text.

The month went by with no contact, where once they'd spoken every day.

Bella remained frozen outside the dressing room door. She felt equally compelled to walk towards him as she did to walk away from him. The resulting inertia left her leaning against the wall, unsure of what she would say if the door were to open.

Which, of course, it eventually did.

He stood, one hand still holding the door, while the other held a pair of sunglasses. They dangled just below his chin, their journey halted by Edward's surprise.

"What are you doing here?"

She didn't have an answer for him, just inane observations. "You have a beard now."

"I do."

"And a black eye."

"That too."

The hand that held the sunglasses finally moved. He gracefully put them to rest on the neck of his sweater and took a step toward Bella. The heavy door behind him finally closed.

"Why are you here?"

Bella didn't answer. Instead she gently traced the purple swell of his brow. Edward closed his eyes at her touch.

"What did you do?" she whispered.

Edward opened his eyes and looked carefully at Bella. He'd been angry about so much, but he couldn't be angry with her.

"Did Emmett know?"

Bella dropped her hand in shock. "Know what?" She tried to respond lightly, but her face was too tight with tension to be convincing.

"Bella." Edward tilted his head to the side. His sad eyes told Bella she hadn't fooled him.

"Do you know?" Her voice was back to a whisper. She was so embarrassed she let things get as bad as they did with James. She didn't want Edward to look at her with pity.

"I think I do."

They stood in the hall. Bella waited for Edward's expression to change. He was looking at her with such hurt in his eyes it tore her up.

"Edward. What happened?"

"What do you think happened? I figured it out, he confirmed it. I wanted to kill him Bella."

"Edward, you imploded. You were so afraid you were going to fuck up your chance in the NHL you created a self-fulfilling prophecy." Bella couldn't believe Edward snapped under the pressure. It wasn't like him at all.

"You think that's what this is about? Haven't you figured it out yet? Do you think there was any way I could work for him once I knew? You think I care about hockey more than—"

"Edward," Bella cut him off. "I'm fine. You didn't need to do anything. I'm not worth throwing your whole career out the window over. You're a good kid—"

"Whoa, stop. Don't you make me feel like the kid here." Edward finally moved, this time away from Bella, and pulled his sunglass from his collar and pushed them in place. They almost entirely covered the bruising. "I can't talk about this. There's an inquest going on. Everything's going to come out then, Bella. I'm sorry. I'm guessing by your silence over the past year that's not what you wanted. I'm sorry I fucked that up for you."

Bella watched Edward walk away from her. She was still frozen against the wall. She still wanted to run to him and run away from him.

She wished she hadn't cut him off when he told her what he cared more about more than hockey.

Bella finally peeled herself away from the wall and set off to work. She told Rose that she was going to be late. Rose told her to take all the time she needed.

She half expected Emmett to be waiting for her in the cafe and was relieved to find it empty. She moved to the back and began to unload the dishwasher while Rose flitted back and forth between the restaurant and the kitchen. Bella heard Rose dealing with a customer and was grateful to be hidden away in the back. She didn't feel like talking to anyone just yet. She was still dealing with the panic over her private life possibly becoming very public.

"Hey, Bella, why don't you grab some lunch and sit out front." Rose always had a way of turning a suggestion into a gentle command. "I'm going to lock up. I'll be back in a little while."

Bella was intrigued by Rose's decision to lock up while she wasn't around. Usually their afternoons were dead, but they never locked the door. She thought she must be looking pretty rough if Rose didn't want her bothering with customers.

As soon as she walked through to the counter, she saw Rose had an ulterior motive for locking the door and closing the blinds.

He was sitting at his usual table. He hadn't ordered lunch today, but had his hands wrapped around a coffee mug instead. This was unusual for Edward. Bella knew he only drank coffee before practice, never after.

She said nothing, and he didn't look up, though he must have heard her moving around behind the counter. She poured her own coffee, like she always did before she went to sit with him. In the past she'd bring her computer or text books over and he'd hang around while she pretended to work, and then chastise her when she would try to procrastinate by engaging him in conversation. She almost always succeeded.

Today she sat across from him instead of her usual spot beside him. His sunglasses once again hung from the collar of his shirt. He'd thrown a beanie on over his hair which, along with his new facial hair, seemed to frame his black eye.

Bella wanted to say something. Maybe she should apologize for not telling him. They were best friends, and of course he'd be upset to learn James had been abusive. She shouldn't have let him walk into that lion's den unprepared. Maybe she should yell at him for overreacting. For sticking his nose into her personal business and possibly wrecking both of their lives.

She said nothing. She watched him as he watched the steam rise from his mug. She shifted in her chair as she took a sip from her own, and her leg momentarily banged into Edward's. Bella pulled it away quickly as Edward finally looked up. He held her eyes as his foot moved against hers. This time she didn't pull away. They looked at each other. The only sound in the room was their breathing. Bella looked down to her coffee, and as she broke eye contact, Edward slid his foot along hers as he retreated. She didn't look up as he stood and walked out the door.

Bella was behind the counter the next day when he showed up. He didn't approach her. He just moved to the table and watched from behind his sunglasses as the last few tables cleared out.

Rose brought him a coffee and the two quietly talked while Bella cleared the tables to the back and loaded the dishwasher. She wasn't surprised to find the blinds drawn and the open sign facing her when she returned. Edward's sunglasses were off, but he continued to watch his coffee.

Bella poured her own before sitting across from Edward. Nearly immediately he shifted in his seat. This time it wasn't just her foot that he grazed, but he brushed the length of his calf against hers, so they lightly touched from knee to ankle. Bella's quick inhalation was audible as she closed her eyes and gently pressed her leg into his. She heard Edward's exhale but didn't look up. The two sat in a silence, only intermittently interrupted by the occasional clunk as a mug hit the table.

Bella looked up as she took her last sip of coffee to find Edward watching her. She held his eyes until he looked down to push himself from the table. He left without looking back.

On the third day she watched and she wondered. All she could think about was whether or not he'd walk through the door, the feeling of his leg pressed against hers, and the hope that he would do it again.

She wasn't disappointed.

Bella tried to keep her hand steady as she sat down with her drink. His leg instantly pressed against hers. This time there was no hesitation. He twisted his leg behind Bella's, pulling her slightly toward him. She finished her drink slowly. She knew once she was done, they'd make eye contact and then he would leave. Even though she was right, she was still disappointed.

Once he was out the door, she let her head fall to her arms on the table.

What was she doing?

The next morning she was a mess. She'd barely slept the night before. At some point today or tomorrow, the public would know the results of the Blackhawks' inquiry. She wasn't worried about her private life being exposed.

She was worried about Edward.

Emmett had told her management had called him in for a meeting and questioned him about Bella's relationship with James. He was told to think about a goalie to replace Edward and given some prospects to look at.

She was worried about whatever was happening with Edward now. She was worried that whatever it was would end.

Now, it was a routine; Rose would serve Edward until the place was clear, close the blinds, and lock the door behind her. Bella would emerge from the kitchen, grab a coffee, and sit across from a silent Edward. His leg took the same position as yesterday, only this time Bella met him halfway. Neither looked at the other. Both watched their coffee as the steam twisted up and into the space between them. Bella held the warm mug between both hands, reluctant to drink. Knowing once she was done he'd leave. Bella saw his hand only as she felt his palm press against her. She paused a moment before letting go of her mug to entwine her fingers in his.

Eventually she looked into his eyes and then watched him retreat and walk away. He hesitated, but he never turned around.

It had been five days.

A press conference had been called for later today. Bella dropped two trays before Rose sent her to the kitchen, telling her to steady her hands by kneading some dough. Eventually Rose came back with her coat on and watched Bella load the last of the dishes.

"He'll come around." Rose finally broke the silence.

Bella couldn't hide her disappointment. What if he had already left town? He may have already been released.

Rose smiled as she watched Bella, her suspicions confirmed. "I don't mean Edward. He's out there waiting for you. I meant your brother."

"What do you mean?" Bella had an idea of exactly what Rose meant.

"Emmett only wants you to be happy, you know."

"I know. But why are you telling me this?"

"I have no idea what's been going on when I leave here, but it's obviously not enough. The two of you look like the saddest pair of lost souls I've ever seen."

"Of course we do. I'm about to be humiliated and he's about to lose his job."

"Or," Rose countered, "you could stop being so oblivious and you could both find happiness."

"He's so young, Rose."

"And you're not as old as you think you are."

Bella said nothing as Rose breezed out the back door.

This time, Bella didn't bother getting a drink. Maybe Rose was right.

There was something here, wasn't there?

Maybe he was having a breakdown and this was just another thing he was using on his path to self-destruction.

Maybe they needed to talk.

Bella sat down, and their legs twisted together under the table as their hands met across the top. Bella waited, this time watching Edward finish his coffee, as she tried to summon the courage to speak.

As she looked for the words she needed to say out loud, she also hoped he'd make another move. That he'd do something there was no way she could misinterpret.

As he put his empty mug down she realized that was it. He got up and she watched him walk to the door. He was going to walk out the door, and possibly out of her life. Maybe to another team in the league. Maybe out of hockey altogether.

Just as Bella was getting ready to smash the maybes that were crowding between the two of them, Edward broke his long silence.

"There are things I want—no need—to say to you. Things that I have no right to say." His voice was barely a whisper, and yet it filled the room. "I don't know what to do, Bella. I'm so sorry I fucked this up. This is what I was afraid of losing. You're the one thing I didn't want to lose."

Edward didn't wait around for Bella to reply.

She didn't watch the press conference. Emmett turned it on and she walked out the door. She couldn't watch as her life was about to crumble around her.

She spent the afternoon weighing her options.

In the end it all came down to the same thing.

She needed to find the strength she summoned last December when she bravely walked away from a life that had become a nightmare. She needed to keep walking toward the life she once thought she could only dream of.

But first, she needed to talk.

She could see Edward through his window. He hadn't bothered to draw the curtains. She thought he'd be watching the press conference, but a black and white movie flickered across the screen instead. She watched as he absentmindedly pet his dog, no longer puppy sized, curled up on the seat beside him.

She watched him as he stood up, pacing as he held the phone to his ear. She wondered who he was talking to: Family? Media? Someone from his new team? He tossed the phone down on his couch and pulled the curtains closed.

She forced her legs to move. Her hand hovered near his door, almost knocking, before she pulled her balled fist away and lightly tapped her chin with it instead. She did this three more times before she actually made contact with the door.

The door opened before she could move her hand away.

"I know you have things that you aren't going to say, but I have some things I need to tell you."

Edward smiled sadly and opened the door wider. He leaned against it once she stepped inside.

"I'm a little lost here. I don't know what I'm doing, but hear me out." Bella took a deep breath and then dove right in. "When I met James, I was nineteen and I was pressing the self-destruct button."

"Bella, you don't need to explain James to me."

"I do. Because it matters. I used to be just like you. I was driven. I fast-tracked through high school. I was nearly done with my undergrad when everything fell apart. All it took was a drunk driver to swerve into the wrong lane and knock my world off its axis. Emmett threw himself into hockey; I wanted to throw myself off a cliff. He had an amazing year, and even though he was passed over in the draft, he earned an invitation to try out for the Bruins that summer."

Edward knew this. Emmett often referred to his past, how he'd dealt with the loss of his parents and turned it into something with meaning, when he spoke to the team about overcoming obstacles.

"I went with him. I didn't know what I would do if I stayed in Seattle if he was in Boston. He was all I had left in the world. And then I met James. He was charming and confident and pursued me. Emmett earned a place on the farm team and I stayed with James."

"Really, Bella, you don't—"

"I do. About halfway through the year they brought Em up and traded James to Philly. He had to meet the team in Colorado. We had a layover in Vegas and got married." Bella paused. "So this is why I'm lost. Because I have no idea what you trying to kiss me means. I don't know what it means when you say those things to me about being important to you. I don't know what it means when you hold my hand. I went from never having a boyfriend to being married to a mercurial man in a span of six months."

"I think you know what it means, Bella." Edward looked at her with disbelief.

"Okay, I know what it means, sure," she conceded. "But here's the thing. I'm still that girl who doesn't do anything half-heartedly. Even if it's an incredibly stupid thing like marrying a sociopath in Vegas. So I guess what I really mean is that I'm not sure what it means to you."

"You still haven't figured that out? You said it yourself: we're a lot alike. Do you think I do anything, anything half-assed?"


"Then why are you lost here?"

"Because I don't know if I'm your self-destruct button!" Bella hadn't meant to shout it at Edward, but she was so consumed with fear she couldn't stop herself.

"My self-destruct button?" Edward matched Bella's fear with frustration. "Bella do you want to know what this means? What this—" Edward's hand gestured between the two of them. "Really means?" He moved away from the door and stood in front of Bella. "It means I love you."

Bella didn't move.

"I love you," Edward repeated. "I love you. I love you. I love you." With each declaration Edward moved closer and his voice became softer until he was nearly whispering it against her mouth. "I love you."

Bella said nothing.

She'd never had a man tell her he loved her before.

The closest James ever came was when he told her he loved her tits.

Edward pulled his head back enough to look in Bella's eyes.

"You don't have to say it. I just thought you should know that's what it means."

Edward's mouth crashed against Bella's with a groan of need. It made her faint with want. She'd never been kissed like this. Edward's mouth devoured her with a hunger that matched her own. His hands couldn't stay still. They pulled through her hair, cupped her ass, and kneaded her breasts.

"Bella, if this starts between us…" Edward pulled away from Bella's lips to speak, only to stop as his mouth found her neck. "If this starts between us…" This time he pulled away only to have Bella return the favour. Her tongue flicked his ear, easing the gentle sting her teeth had just inflicted. "I don't want you to regret this. I can wait for you, but I can't have you and lose you."

This time they pulled away from each other, but Edward's hands continued to roam over Bella's back, into her hair.

"I can't lose you either. I'll go where you go."

"Even if that means going back to Chicago?" His thumbs brushed under her chin. He braced himself for the rejection.

"What do you mean?" Bella's hands stilled.

"Crawford's out for the season. He needs a second surgery."

"Wait, what happened today?"

"Don't you know? They fired James. We managed to keep you out of it. Turns out he was hanging on by a thread anyway. But it's hard to fire a coach when the team's winning. Apparently he was hated enough there'd been some talk about deliberately throwing some games."

"I don't care about James. What happened with you? Why are you going to Chicago?" Bella thought the worst; he'd been released and was moving into his parents place.

"I'm replacing Crawford."

There were so many reasons to say no, to end this before it started. What would people say when she showed up again, only with a new partner? This time she wouldn't be the coach's wife, but a player's girlfriend. Would they whisper behind her back? Would they let her know exactly what they thought of her?

Bella had let what other people thought of her keep her in Chicago for far too long. At first she stayed with James because she didn't want to admit running off and marrying him was a mistake. Then she stayed because she didn't want people to judge her for leaving him when it was clear he was struggling with his own demons. Then she stayed because she didn't want people to know how bad things were.

Worrying about others had kept her down for so long. Bella realized if she didn't change her frame of mind she'd never find happiness.

"Can you give me an hour to pack?"

Edward's mouth was back on Bella's. His tongue stroked hers as he backed her against a wall. He could no longer contain his desire. It was an electric current that ran off her and through him. He burned where Bella touched him. Her fingers teased under his shirt and he leaned away to pull it off. He needed to feel her pressed against him. Once he'd tossed his shirt away, he pulled Bella away from the wall, peeling her sweater over her head as they moved together.

"Fuck," Edward growled as Bella's fingernails scraped over his chest and across a nipple. Eager to return the gesture, he didn't even bother to undo her bra. As he pulled the cup down his tongue flicked her hard rosebud. She moaned as it grew even harder.

He pulled it into his mouth. His tongue twisted around her nipple as her hands twisted into her hair. They continued to move through Edward's house until the back of Bella's legs hit a ledge. Edward quickly undid Bella's jeans and pulled them to her thighs before returning to her hips and effortlessly lifting her. He stepped back, pulling her pants off as he went. A slow grin spread across his face as he took in the view in front of him. "It's fitting you're on my dining room table, because I'm going to devour you."

Edward lifted Bella's leg and kissed the inside of her knee as he dropped to his. She closed her eyes as she felt his lips and tongue tease their way up her thigh.

Bella jerked her hips away just before he reached his destination. "You don't have to."

"Of course I have to." Edward smiled and pulled Bella back to the edge of the table.

"No, you really don't." Bella moved back again. This time Edward took note of the slight rise of panic in her voice.

"Whoa, baby." He stood up and took Bella's hands, pulling her up to a sitting position. "If you don't want me to go down on you, that's okay."

"I just don't want you to feel forced to do anything. I know guys don't like that—"

"Stop right there." Edward moved his hands to Bella's face. "I want it. I love it. I've spent a lot of time wondering what you taste like, jerking off to the image of my tongue buried in your pussy."

Bella's eyes widened as a moan escaped her lips. She loved her Edward when he was straight laced and serious, but this Edward? This Edward who talked about jerking off and her pussy? He did something else to her entirely.

"I know that fucker hurt you. Did he ever hurt you while doing that?"

"He never did that. No one's ever done that," Bella whispered her confession. "There's probably no point. I can't come with someone else. I'm frigid." Edward kept his hands on Bella's cheeks as her eyes filled with tears. "This was a mistake. I'm sorry, Edward. You deserve someone so much more—"

"Stop." Edward brushed away a tear that had escaped. "I love you. If you want to stop what we are doing right now, that's fine. We can slow down. I'll do anything for you, and if I have to wait another year for you, I will. But I'll tell you this: there's nothing frigid about you. You're the hottest fucking woman I've ever met."

"Edward," Bella sighed, bringing her hand to cover his.

"Let me finish." He shifted his hand so hers was now under his and gently pulled their hands down to just below her neck. "Do you feel your chest heaving?"

Bella nodded. Edward looked away from where their hands were joined to hold her gaze. "That's not the breath of a frigid woman." He moved their hands lower. The tips of his fingers brushed her nipple but kept moving until he pressed their hands into the flesh over her heart. "Do you feel your heart racing?"

"Yes," she breathed her agreement on an exhale.

"It's carrying your desire, pushing it through you." He kept eye contact while he dragged their hands lower. He felt her stomach muscles quiver with tension as he passed over them. He moved slowly, giving her the opportunity to stop him. She didn't. They both moaned as he reached his destination. He broke eye contact only to close his eyes, and he pressed their fingers over her panties. "Do you feel how wet you are?"

Bella nodded and Edward moved their hands again, this time to stroke against the soaked material. "Who made you this wet?" He kept their fingers moving.

"You did."

"No, sweetheart, we did. You're this wet thinking about us aren't you? When I told you I wanted to bury my tongue in your pussy, when you think about my tongue here." He pressed their fingers against her opening, and she sighed as she felt herself get wetter. "That's my girl."

Edward tilted Bella's face toward him, leaning in to kiss her, stopping just before their lips touched. "When you think about this." He moved the tip of his tongue along her lips while he mirrored the movement with his fingers around her other lips. He stilled his hands and pulled his face away. "Do you want me to stop?"

"God no." She confirmed her new enthusiasm with a searing kiss. Her legs tightened around his waist, and she tried to pull him closer.

Edward let Bella pull him down only to move away from her mouth once more. His tongue swirled around her ear before he whispered another declaration of his love for her. His hands roamed over her breasts and his mouth followed. He paused to watch Bella before he pulled her last piece of clothing from her. She was looking at Edward. She wore an expression of equal parts desire and apprehension. Edward kept his eyes on Bella's as he kissed her hips. Once her panties fell from her ankles, Edward pulled her to the edge of the table, sinking to his knees before her. He pushed her knees apart, kissing behind each one before making his way back up her thighs.

Edward's mouth teased, moving from one leg to the other but avoiding where he wanted to be. Bella's hips began to move as she became more and more eager for what he'd promised.

Finally, he made contact. Bella hissed as her hips bucked. His tongue probed, alternating between long licks between her folds and hard, fast flicks at her apex. Bella's hands grabbed the edge of the table behind her head. She'd never felt like this before. She was sure she was about to come untethered. Edward sensed her approaching orgasm in the abandoned movement of her hips and the continued stream of appreciation that tumbled from her lips. He curled his fingers into her as he sucked her clit into his mouth.

He wanted to talk dirty to her, to tell her to come on his fingers, on his face, but he didn't dare move his mouth away from her. Bella's hips bucked wildly as she cried out. Her body tightened and then exploded. She let go of the table and fisted her hands into Edward's hair. He continued to tenderly lap at Bella as she ground against him.

"I love you!" she blurted out, letting go of his hair.

"Yeah, that will do that to a girl," Edward teased while he stood up, and Bella realized her faux pas.

She bolted up, taking his face in her hands. "No! Not because of, I mean I loved that. Yeah. I did." Bella let go of Edward to run her hand through her hair. "I love you. I'm sorry that I didn't say it before—"

"But you did," Edward's voice soothed. "You told me you'd move back to Chicago to be with me. You told me you didn't do anything without putting your whole heart into it. I knew, Bella. I knew."

"But you need to hear it. I love you. I love you. I love you." Bella repeated Edward's earlier declaration, kissing her way down his chest as she spoke. "Now let me show you." She grabbed the waist band of Edward's jeans, simultaneously pushing him back as she slid from the table and undid the button. She tried to twist around, switching their positions, when Edward stopped her.

"Can I take a rain check on that?" He'd guessed, correctly, that she was about to go down on him. He could tell she was more than willing, but James' words rang in his ear. He didn't want Bella to do anything she may be uncomfortable with just to please him. Plus, he had other pressing concerns and desires. "Bella, it's been more than a year. I don't think I'm going to last long, and the first time I come with you, I'd like it to be with you writhing beneath me."

"You haven't been with anyone since you met me?" Bella stopped her descent.

"Bella, it didn't take me long to figure out how I felt about you. I'm not interested in fucking just to get off. I knew one day you'd be ready to see the way I felt about you, and I wasn't going to let anything complicate that." Edward's fingers swiftly swept along Bella's collarbone to underneath her chin. He gently tilted her face up to him. "I knew we had enough obstacles between us. I wasn't going to add more."

"You mean our age gap."

"I mean your perception of our age gap. Bella, am I like any other twenty-two-year-old you've met?"

She didn't even have to contemplate it. She'd spent the majority of her adult life around guys in their twenties. "No. You're like no one I've ever met."

"You're everything to me, Bella. You were worth it. If I lost my chance to ever play in the NHL again, I wouldn't regret it. But if lost my chance with you..."

She was overwhelmed. With love. With desire. The two were so entwined; she'd never felt more complete, yet she'd never needed something more. "Take me to bed."

He was on her again. His hands traveled down her body. He pulled her legs around his waist as his tongue twisted around hers. Her wet heat pressed against his rippling abs as he moved toward his bedroom. Bella once again fisted her hands in his hair. She mewled when Edward kneeled on the bed and brought her slowly down.

He placed her gently on the middle of his bed and then backed up. "Touch yourself," he commanded, undoing his jeans and pulling them down his legs, his quads flexing with the movement. Bella had no problem obeying. She was enjoying the view. The extra time in the gym, playing a position that kept him in a squat, the rigorous adherence to nutrition; it showed.

"I could watch you all day." Edward took his thick cock in his hand, unrolling the condom he'd grabbed from the dresser behind him, and then he continued to leisurely stroke himself while he watched Bella's fingers explore her aching sex. "This sight, you naked on my bed, my fantasies had nothing on this." He kneeled on the bed again. Though his hand stilled, it remained on his erection. He gently squeezed his base, hoping to slow himself down, as he pressed against her entrance.

They both moaned as he entered her. Bella was hot and tight and she stretched over him. Edward's eyes didn't move away from Bella's face until he was fully sheathed inside her.

"I love you." Her declaration unleashed something in Edward.

"Bella," Edward whispered against Bella's neck.

She let her nails bite into his back, hard enough to encourage him to move against her. She pulled his head from her neck to look at him. "Don't hold back." But it wasn't what she said that tipped him; it was the emotion in her eyes as she spoke to him. "Let go. Make me yours."

He did.

He cupped her shoulder with one hand while the other grabbed the headboard. He pulled her body to him as he pushed toward her. Her back arched against him as much as it could under the force of his body claiming her.

His body, hard and tight, moved against her clit. His pace was unrelenting, nearly frantic, and Bella felt a growing pressure deep in her belly. Her muscles clenched. As she grew even tighter around Edward's dick, she groaned and he matched her cries. His hips thrust wildly into her as she came, the flutter of her body milking him, the arousal that coated him triggering his own orgasm.

He continued to move, leisurely now, as they both rode out the pleasure that moved between them.

She was sure now that she'd come undone, she'd never come back down.

That she'd never be the person she was before this moment.

She'd never been happier.

She was released.

She was loved.

She loved.

She was his.

She was free.

Am I going to continue this? Honestly, I'm not sure. Originally I conceived this only as a one shot, but I've left it open, just in case. Thanks for reading.